Sonia Friedman said, ‘In March 2020, I had 19 productions either running or about to go into rehearsals around the world. On March 6, I wrote in a notebook: “Prepare for a shutdown of six, eight or 12 weeks. Discuss ramifications of a 12-week shutdown with theatre owners and mitigating actions.”
That’s what the thinking was. At 5pm on the 16th, the public was told not to go to the theatre, but there was no mandate to shut us down. There was about 10 minutes of “What am I meant to do?”
Everyone was looking to me, so I took the decision. I sent each of my associate producers to the theatres and said ‘Tell them we can’t continue’. I then had to start dismantling dozens of productions. It was a while before the enormity of it hit me. It was very distressing and I don’t quite know why I didn’t have a breakdown but I was close to it.
It took me about 15 weeks to go back to the West End. I stood outside Leopoldstadt at the Wyndham’s, having passed Harry Potter on the way. The scale of the loss was so immense, I thought: ‘How do we come back from this?’” I’m still asking that question.’
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